Over the last few weeks, much of the media’s focus has been on Donald Trump’s “locker room talk”following the recordings discovered in which he described sexually harassing women. While these statements are clearly unacceptable, especially from a high-powered individual, the question remains-should this disqualify Trump as a candidate?

According to our survey, the vast majority of the 47 University of Rhode Island students surveyed said they had heard “a lot” of news coverage on the subject. Individual reactions varied greatly, from “It is disgusting and shameful, as is the fact that many supporters refuse to hold him accountable for it,” to “Bill’s done a lot worse and Hillary attacked those women worse than Trump’s comments.” Most agree that Trump’s comments were inappropriate, and several admitted they were not surprised by them.

One student, a junior, thought he should be disqualified as a presidential candidate.

“Absolutely appalling but typical of rape culture,” the junior said. “I truly don’t understand how a man so under qualified and of such low moral standing is still being supported as a presidential candidate.”

Another student, a senior, said they found Trump’s comments lewd and inappropriate, but was not swayed in their political view and would therefore still be voting for him.

“People make comments of that nature a lot,” the senior said. “It is inexcusable, however, [that] the media is blowing it out of proportion and trying to crucify the Trump campaign. They have been doing it since the primary elections.”

This election is often referred to as the choice between the “lesser of two evils.” Through this lens, it becomes clear why there are caveats attached to people’s choices. They’re voting for Trump because they think Hillary is far more corrupt; they’re voting for Hillary because Trump is “a disgusting little man.”

An overwhelming 60 percent of students surveyed said that they did not believe that Trump’s lewd comments should bar him from becoming president, and only one respondent answered that they will no longer be voting for him as a result. Thirty-four percent said they had originally planned and still intended to vote for the Republican candidate, while the remaining 63 percent never intended to vote for him in the first place.

A common theme in the free answer question about individual’s thoughts on the subject was that of Trump as a role model. Many said he is perpetuating rape culture, which often dismisses sexual violence as “boys being boys.” As one student put it, “People dismissing it as ‘locker room talk’ or ‘boys being boys’ think they’re defending him when really they’re illustrating the larger problem, which is rape culture…it’s revealing the way sexual assault is encouraged/normalized.”

Several students said they did not want such a person representing our country to other nations and setting an example within.

One of the most commonly used words was “accountability.” There was a lot of raw emotion and outrage that there have been no real repercussions. In the words of one student, “It is disgusting and shameful, as is the fact that many supporters refuse to hold him accountable for it.”

When it comes time to choose a president, the American voter has much to consider. They must sift through a sea of noise and mud-slinging to try and determine which candidate will best represent themselves and their beliefs, while also best representing our country as a whole. It is not an easy decision, but one we fought hard for the ability to make. So keep that in mind as Nov. 8 draws nearer and nearer, but above all, vote. The decision is yours.

We want to hear from you! Do you have thoughts on the current election you want highlighted in the next article? Let me know at rachel_nunes@my.uri.edu, and don’t forget to take part in the biweekly survey, located on the Cigar website and on social media.


This week’s survey: